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Exploring Word Meaning in Scripture

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Exploring Word Meaning in Scripture

Each week my Bible class has a new memory verse to learn. Before memorizing the verse, we always spend some time discussing what the verse means. Here are some things we do while discussing meaning:

Compare Translations
Although we all memorize from the same version (I have my students memorize from NASB), I encourage the students to bring other translations to class. This allows us to compare different wordings, which is helpful if we find words we don't know, or aren't sure of the meaning within the context.

Make a Word/Phrase List
As we are discussing the verse, we will often find words and phrases that I think it's important to discuss. These may be uncommon words like "propitiation," but they may be more common words such as "faith," "grace," or "hope." I write the word (or phrase) on the board, and ask students to brainstorm other ways of saying the same thing. I write each word or phrase they come up with on the board, creating a list of synonyms. Often students will come up with phrases out of their heads; other times they will use dictionaries, concordances or alternate translations for ideas. Even if a synonym doesn't fit in the context of the verse, I write it on the board. Don't be afraid to wait in silence for awhile; the students need time to think.

Evaluate Each Word/Phrase
Now that we have a list, we go back through it, and discuss whether each phrase/word we wrote fits in the context of the verse. Often we will find ideas in our list that don't fit the meaning of the verse, so we cross them out.

Repeat this process for each word you want to discuss.

Put It Together
Finally, after we've discussed all the word meanings, have the students use synonyms to put the verse in their own words.

For example, if the verse has the phrase "abhor what is evil," (from Romans 12:9), and your students have come up with synonyms "hate," "despise," or "avoid" for "abhor" and they came up with "bad things" and "sin," as synonyms of "evil," the following would be possible rewordings of the verse:

Hate what is bad.
Despise sin.
Avoid sin.

This process can help students gain a much deeper understanding of the verse.

Lesson by Mr. Twitchell

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